Browsing: Veterans Affairs

Shutdown Watch–Day 8

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The big news today is what’s not happening—i.e., there is no indication of any deal in sight to reopen the government this week. In addition, a bill to ensure back pay to hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal employees appears to be hitting a Senate slowdown. The measure, sponsored by Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., raced through the Republican-run House on a 407-0 vote Saturday; supporters had hoped for a similar glide through the Democratic controlled-Senate. But on Monday, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, called it “premature” to move ahead with the back pay bill while Democrats were refusing to take up…

'Shame on you,' disabled vet Duckworth grills IRS contractor

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Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill, lost her legs and the use of her right arm as a helicopter pilot in Iraq in 2004. She was awarded a Purple Heart for her combat injuries. Braulio Castillo broke his foot in a prep school injury nearly three decades ago at the U.S. Military Preparatory School, which he attended for nine months before playing football in college. He owns a technology business certified as a service-disabled, veteran-owned company eligible for government set aside contracts. The two met at a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing Wednesday in an exchange neither will forget…

IRS official pleads the Fifth

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An IRS technology official at the center of a House investigation into whether he pushed the agency to award contracts potentially worth up to $500 million to a company owned by a personal friend pleaded the Fifth Amendment and refused to testify at a House hearing Wednesday. A House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform report Tuesday said Greg Roseman, an IRS deputy director, may have influenced the IRS to award lucrative IT contracts to Strong Castle, Inc. The same report also said the company had given the Small Business Administration misleading information to win approval so it could obtain…

VA ads target Red Sox, Celtics fans in outreach campaign

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The Veterans Affairs Department’s outreach strategy to try get Boston area vets enrolled in benefits is targeting the town’s famous love of sports. The VA is paying $7,500 a piece to run ads in annual yearbooks for the New England Patriots and Boston’s Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins, which, by the way, need two games to win hockey’s Stanley Cup. Michael B. McNamara, outreach program manager for the VA’s New England healthcare system, said in a phone interview that the VA as been running ads in the yearbooks for two years. So far, the strategy of reaching out to vets…

Another VA executive moves on

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Todd Grams, the Veterans Affairs Department’s chief financial officer, is leaving to become chief of staff at the IRS. In an email sent today to “Friends and Colleagues,” Grams, who is also the VA’s executive-in-charge for management, said he is returning to the IRS this week at the request of acting Commissioner Danny Werfel. “For a total of almost 11 years (over two tours), I have had the honor to serve our nation’s veterans,” Grams said. “I am very grateful to have had both opportunities to contribute at the VA.” Grams was previously at the IRS from 2001 to 2006, first…

Another senior VA official leaving next month

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Scott Gould, the number two official at the Veterans Affairs Department for the last four years, is stepping down May 17, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said in a news release today. As the department’s deputy secretary, Gould has served as chief operating officer since winning Senate confirmation to the job in April 2009. In that role, he “has been vital to the progress we’ve made on our top three priorities: increasing access to VA care and services, eliminating the compensation claims backlog and ending veterans’ homelessness,” Shinseki said in the release. “While we have more work to do, Scott’s contributions…

Veterans Affairs CIO Roger Baker to resign

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The Veterans Affairs Department’s chief information officer told employees Friday he will resign, the department confirmed.   In a message to IT staff, Baker did not say when his last day will be and offered no explanation about his resignation. The DorobekINSIDER hinted that Baker may leave as soon as March 1. Here’s some of what Baker told employees: I would like to thank each of you for your hard work and dedication in serving our VA customers and our Nation’s Veterans.  Over the last four years, VA IT has come to be recognized as a leader in federal IT.  We have improved our…

Updated: VA to move 600,000 email accounts to Microsoft cloud

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The Veterans Affairs Department has awarded HP Enterprise Services a $36 million contract to move 600,000 email accounts to the cloud. Under the five-year contract, VA users will have access to email and shared calendars using Microsoft Office 365 for Government. Users, however, will not have access to additional features such as instant messaging and web and video conferencing. “VA is moving to cloud-based email and collaboration as part of a broader effort to leverage emerging technologies to reduce costs, increase efficiencies and, most importantly, improve service delivery to our nation’s veterans,” Charles De Sanno, executive director for enterprise systems engineering at the VA,…

Watch VA's 'Beat It' video from controversial conferences

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The Veterans Affairs Department today delivered to Congress dozens of DVDs documenting its controversial 2011 human resources conferences (now being investigated by the agency’s Office of Inspector General for possible wasteful spending). The vast majority of them are typical HR conference fare: addresses by Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry and VA Chief Human Capital Officer John Sepulveda, and discussions about recruitment challenges, labor-management relations and disability programs. (Which supports the IG’s conclusion that the conference was held for legitimate reasons, despite its concerns about hundreds of thousands of dollars in alleged wasteful spending on promotional items and scouting…

$52K on a conference video? It's a trap!

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The $52,000 “Patton” parody video commissioned by the Veterans Affairs Department and released this morning is — let’s be honest — kind of a snooze. The actor sorta sounds like George C. Scott’s Gen. Patton towards the end — I’ll give him that — but doesn’t look like him at all, it’s too long, and what few jokes there are are pretty lame. (And I’m not really sure how one actor, his costume, a big flag, and a smattering of B-roll and interviews with VA employees requires a budget of $52,000.) It doesn’t have the catchy tune or wit of…

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